Attorney believes head of Westwood Heights schools, wife will lose their jobs

Investigator is looking into alleged racist and transphobic remarks by superintendent’s wife, who is a teacher there
Published: May. 3, 2021 at 6:09 PM EDT
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MT. MORRIS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WJRT) - As the investigation into the Westwood Heights School District superintendent and his wife continues, an attorney representing complainants believes both of them will lose their jobs.

Trachelle Young represents multiple anonymous Westwood Heights teachers, staff and students who came forward two months ago to highlight concerns about years of alleged racist and transphobic remarks made by an English teacher at Academy West, which is the district’s alternative high school.

The English teacher at the center of the allegations is also the wife of Superintendent Peter Toal. Both of them remain on administrative leave while an independent law firm from the Detroit area conducts an investigation into the teacher’s remarks.

The anonymous group of complainants claim that they brought forward concerns about the teacher’s remarks in the classroom and online for years, but administrators did not take action. They believe her marriage to the district’s top administrator led to the lack of discipline.

The teachers say the allegedly racist and transphobic comments created an uncomfortable working and learning environment at Academy West.

The school district placed the Toals on leave and launched an investigation when the teachers came forward two months ago. The school board later scrapped that investigation after the teachers raised more concerns about how it was being carried out and hired the Detroit-area attorney to start over.

Young hopes to see a resolution by the end of this school year.

“We’re not at the finish line, but we’re heading in the right direction,” she said.

Young believes the Toals have been interviewed as part of the new investigation and she expects the couple will lose their jobs when the investigation wraps up. She is grateful that investigators are taking their time to get there, because she said more people have been allowed to speak up this time around.

“There was a lot going on where they could have stood up a long time ago but because of the atmosphere, you know, they didn’t feel comfortable they felt like their jobs were threatened or you know,” Young said. “They had no real voice, and so I’m glad they found that strength to speak up and to come together.”

An interim superintendent was named in March. Young said the tension has died down under his leadership. While she said that’s good progress, she’s still working to get more thorough diversity training throughout the school district.

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